Naked Alibi is a 1954 American film noir crime film directed by Jerry Hopper and starring Sterling Hayden and Gloria Grahame. It was released on October 1, 1954 by Universal-International and portions of the film were shot in Tijuana.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jerry Hopper|
|Produced by||Ross Hunter|
|Screenplay by||Lawrence Roman|
|Based on||the story "Cry Copper"|
by Gladys Atwater
J. Robert Bren
|Edited by||Al Clark|
|Color process||Black and white|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
In a California city, Lt. Fred Parks interrogates local baker Albert Willis (Gene Barry) about his possible connection to recent eastside robberies. After repeatedly stating that he is innocent, Willis finally erupts in anger and punches Parks, who retaliates. Chief Joseph E. Conroy (Sterling Hayden) enters just in time to hear Willis threaten revenge but is compelled to release him because he has read that councilman Edgar Goodwin is calling for an investigation of police brutality. Willis returns to his wife Helen (Marcia Henderson), but slips out again that night and hours later, Parks is found shot.
Joe takes on the case and immediately suspects Willis; however, he has only the bullets as evidence. When the police try to arrest Willis again, he runs away, falling on his head during the chase. He once again swears he is innocent, and after his lawyer, wife, and Goodwin hear about Willis's injuries, pressure is put on Joe. Forced to let Willis go, Joe instructs an officer to follow the baker. That evening, Willis slips into a church and disappears. Hours later, two more officers are killed and Joe goes to arrest Willis himself. When Willis provokes another fight, the altercation is witnessed by a reporter, and Joe is soon fired for brutality and labelled unbalanced. Undaunted, he asks his friend, private detective Matt Matthews, to help tail Willis.
Over the next few days, Willis grows disturbed by the shadows following him and tells Helen that he must leave town to clear his head. He heads to Border City, located in Mexico, with Joe following close behind; there, the baker watches his girlfriend Marianna (Gloria Grahame) sing at a bar. Marianna knows nothing of Willis's other life and accepts his rough treatment because she loves him deeply. That night, Joe shows Willis's photo around town and is duped by a shyster who stabs, robs, and leaves him for dead.
A young local boy named Petey finds Joe in the alley the next morning and, along with his uncle Charlie, minister to him in their apartment. When Marianna, who lives upstairs from Petey, comes by to help them, she pockets Joe's photo of Willis, which is captioned: "Killer or family man?" Later at a party hosted by Willis, she asks him to marry her, but he refuses, promising only to keep coming back to her. Marianna is then horrified to witness Willis throwing a clumsy waiter over an indoor balcony. She heads for home, followed by Willis, and while Joe watches from the window, Willis grabs her roughly and threatens her. Marianna runs inside where she attempts to extract information from Joe by flirting with him. He tells her nothing and, in retaliation, she puts sleeping powder in his coffee. When she leaves, Joe follows, not realizing he has been drugged. He hides in the alley behind the bar where he hears Willis threaten Marianna again, and he attracts Willis's attention briefly when he stumbles as he leaves.
The next morning, Joe readies to go, stopping only to say goodbye to Marianna who quietly talks to him about the big mistakes she has made. Meanwhile, Willis begins to believe that the "drunk" in the alley is Marianna's new lover and jealously storms into her dressing room. When she admits she knows he is married, Willis realizes the drunk was Joe and beats her. She runs to Joe's hotel room to warn him and, after seeing her bruises, Joe explains that he must prove Willis guilty in order to clear his own reputation. He shows her a telegram that reveals Willis's participation in a hijacking ring in the States. When Joe and Marianna step outside to deliver the telegram to the police, Willis and his goons ambush them and take them to the bar.
Willis first tries to force Marianna to kiss Joe, then plans with his goons to create a ruckus and kill them incidentally. Meanwhile, Joe learns from Marianna that Willis never attends church and deduces that Willis must have entered church only to hide the gun. Just then, the goons start a fight and the bar erupts in confusion, allowing Joe and Marianna to race out the back door. Willis follows them and, in the back alley, Joe punches him and drags him into his car. The goons see the car and report the "kidnapping" to the police.
In order to return to California to find the gun that will prove Willis' culpability, Joe and Marianna abandon the car and force Willis into the back of a truck. As soon as they arrive in California, Willis runs off. Knowing he will run to the church, Joe and Marianna follow him but police, having been given orders to arrest Joe, stop him and do so. Marianna goes to the church; Willis has retrieved his gun and subsequently takes Marianna hostage. When Joe then bursts in with the policemen, Willis drags Marianna onto the rooftop and barricades the access door. A chase ensues, during which Willis shoots Marianna before Joe can break through the door. He succeeds and kills Willis, who falls to the ground. Joe takes Marianna in his arms and she whispers that they should have met sooner. He then carries her to the street and a waiting ambulance; he then walks alone out into the dark city.
- Sterling Hayden as Chief Joe Conroy
- Gloria Grahame as Marianna
- Gene Barry as Al Willis
- Marcia Henderson as Helen Willis
- Max Showalter as Det. Lt. Fred Parks (as Casey Adams)
- Billy Chapin as Petey
- Chuck Connors as Capt. Owen Kincaide
- Don Haggerty as Matt Matthews
- Stuart Randall as Chief A.S. Babcock
- Don Garrett as Tony
- Richard Beach as Felix
- Tol Avery as Irish
- Paul Levitt as Gerald Frazier
- Fay Roope as Commissioner F.J. O'Day
- Joseph Mell as Otto Stoltz
The very same scenario was used 14 years later in an Ironside episode, "To kill a cop".
Home media releaseEdit
The film has been aired on television but has never been on any type of home media since its theatrical release. On November 5, 2019, Naked Alibi was released on both DVD and Blu-ray for the first time by Kino International under its subsidiary "Kino Lorber Studio Classics" with licensing by Universal Pictures. Both formats present the film in its theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 (the film was originally shot in the academy ratio at 1.37:1).